Report of religious group 'sex slave' rattles Church in Spain

Report of religious group 'sex slave' rattles Church in Spain

Credit: ArTeTeTrA via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
Credit: ArTeTeTrA via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

.- A man who identified himself as a former missionary with the pseudonym of “Paulino” recently made accusations to the Spanish press that he had been a sex slave of a religious congregation which has roots in Barcelona.

He is accusing the Missionary Community of the Saint Paul the Apostle (MCSPA), founded by the late Spanish priest Fr. Francisco Andreo García. The community has a presence in Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Malawi, Germany, Colombia, and the Philippines. “Paulino” has also accused the Church of allegedly covering up his case.

“Paulino”'s account

In statements made to the Spanish daily El País in early November, Paulino told how he was a “work and sex slave of a group of depraved men” in the MCSPA.

“In the three years I was at the Nariokotome mission in  Kenya they treated me like a beast of burden. There were about 30 of us working as slave laborers and to that they added sexual slavery,” he claimed.

Paulino, who has been identified only as Bolivian to preserve his anonymity, said that inside the MCSPA “they told us that an active sexual life is something that God wants, and that he also wanted us to go around naked because he created us naked.”

In his message published in El Pais, the former missionary asks for Pope Francis' help to give him “a bit of relief for my broken soul” and to “not let other men continue going through this hell.”

The accusations of abuse focus especially on Fr. Andreo García, Fr. Alberto Salvans, and Fr. Pere Cané. The three have a common history in a controversial formation house called “Casa de Santiago,” created decades ago in Barcelona to promote late vocations.

Abuses? Starting when?

Various news sources report a variety of alleged abuses against minors in parishes in the late 1970s in Barcelona.

At the time there was a laywoman's order associated with the Casa de Santiago called “Claraeulalies.”
The Germinans Germinabit website, reporting on Church controversies in Catalonia, states that the first scandal at Casa de Santiago “broke out because of several cases of girls in the (Claraeulalies) order who had gotten pregnant.”

“But the biggest scandal occurred  involving an association called Nous Camins (New Ways) directed by the founder of Casa de Santiago, Father Francisco Andreo García, who acted along with a series of deacons, among whom Albert Salvans Giralt and Pere Cané Gombau stand out.

The most notable case involving Nous Camins, Germinans Geminabit states, “happened at Saint Pius X parish where three girls between the ages of 14 and 17, who were part of Deacon Salvans' group, accused him of forcing them to carry on a sexual relationship with him.”

“The families of the minor girls reported the facts to the pastor, Father Soler Perdigó – who later became the auxiliary bishop of Barcelona and Bishop of Girona – and also to Cardinal (Narisco) Jubany. However, both of them pressured the victims not to go file a complaint with the civil courts. The complaint also included Deacon Pere Cané Gombau since he participated in trips and excursions with Salvans' group.”

The Catalan website also reports that the “sect-like” nature of Nous Camins tried to take advantage of the minor girls of wealthy families by using them “to pull in donations from big Catalan  businesses” while they “initiated them from when they were quite little into a world where everything revolved around sex, with the excuse that they needed to become uninhibited because they had problems owing to a lack of affection.”

When Cardinal Jubany was informed of the accusations, he assured that the accused would be quickly dealt with.

The Archdiocese of Barcelona issues a statement

The Archdiocese of Barcelona told CNA Nov. 10 that in the 1980s “all appropriate measures” were “very strictly” carried out and were undertaken by Cardinal Narcíso Jubany and afterwards by his successor, Cardinal Ricardo Maria Carles Gordo, “applying appropriate penalties in the case.”

The archdiocese explained that Salvans and Cané “were punished, as they were deacons,” but lamented, “we don't have any information available on Father Andreo.”

Even though Cardinal Jubany may have offered to expel both deacons, this never would  have had any real effect.

“Alberto Salvans and  Pere Cané left our archdiocese in the 1980s, showing up later in other dioceses in England and the U.S. where they supposedly remain, having no connection with the Archdiocese of Barcelona for years,” the archdiocese pointed out.

Salvans managed to be ordained as a priest in the Archdiocese of Westminster, while Cané was ordained in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Although some accuse the Archdiocese of Barcelona of failing to report on the sanctions against the two deacons, the archdiocese defends itself, maintaining, “there is no record they asked for the mandatory reports prior to their ordination in the other dioceses.”

The Archdiocese of Barcelona also pointed out that the controversial Casa de Santiago was suppressed by Cardinal Carles on Oct. 4, 1994.

After the Casa de Santiago was dissolved, Father Francisco Andreo García founded the now in question  Missionary Community of the Saint  Paul the Apostle, with  Salvans and Cané as close collaborators.

The accused defend themselves

In response to an inquiry from CNA, the Board of Directors of the Missionary Community of Saint Paul the Apostle, which is now headquartered in Milwaukee, refuted the  “false accusations” against them, and complained that “the testimony of so many families and young people that have spent years living together with the missionaries” is being ignored.

According to the organization, the report in the Spanish press “has no credibility” since “ the sole specific reference that appears is a complaint or accusation by someone hiding behind anonymity.”

“Additionally, the person who appears to be the one accused died two years ago, which makes it very difficult for him to defend himself. Everything else is highly implausible generic assertions, devoid of the least corroboration,” the missionary community contended.

The MCSPA maintained that their work has always been carried out “with transparency, and following the directives of the bishops and Church authorities, who know us fully and firsthand, without us having anything to hide.”

The organization now being questioned published on their website a statement similar to what was sent to CNA, also characterizing the accusations as “radically false and lacking all credibility” and complaining of the “similar defamation of our beloved Paco (Francisco Andreo), who died in 2013.”

The Archdiocese of Barcelona clarified that other organizations with ties to the Missionary Community of Saint Paul the Apostle, such as Nous Camins and the Emalaikat Foundation, do not have any relationship with, nor are they recognized by, the local Church.

“The Archdiocese of Barcelona maintains no relationship with any one of the civil associations that are mentioned. Therefore, neither do they have any recognition on the part of our archdiocese,” they stated.
 
The current accusations as well as those from the 1980ss would already be in the hands of the Holy See according to the Archdiocese of Barcelona.

“Paulino” himself trusts that the Pope will lend his help so that “what happened to me will not keep on happening to others.”

At press time, the MCSPA told ACI Prensa that Father Pere Cané “has not been a member” since 2008, while Father Alberto Salvans “is a member and has no leadership role” in the organization.

Tags: Sex abuse, Scandal

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